Officials inside Volkswagen are dropping hints that a 4-door all electric Beetle may be in the planning stages. The current front engine, front wheel drive Beetle is nearing the end of its production run. In fact, VW dealers in the UK are no longer taking orders for the car.
While the company is busy putting together its new I.D. division for electric cars, which will begin with a basic electric hatchback similar to the popular Golf, Volkswagen chief Herbert Diess tells Autocar the new I.D. division will need some “emotional” cars to sell alongside its basic people mover models. One of those will be the I.D. Buzz, a design that will hark back to the original VW KombiVan, which became one of the most iconic vehicles of the 60s and 70s.
“If we wanted to do a Beetle EV, it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” Diess has said previously. He stresses that the company’s new MEB platform is highly adaptable to multiple designs. “We have a good chance on the electric side. You can do derivatives efficiently. We have a very flexible platform. We can do nice things: rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive or all- wheel drive.”
Klaus Bischoff, head of design at Volkswagen, says the company must focus first on producing electric cars that will sell in large volume before making a decision on a Beetle EV and other models: “Our duty is to get the volume models under way. These cars have super-complicated technology and if you do too much, it’s an overload. Then we [can] move into more exotic cars and the field of emotion.”
Bischoff believes his company could broaden the appeal of the so-called New Beetle by giving it more doors and more interior comfort. The existing car, while visually appealing, has not had the number of sales the company hoped for when it brought it to market in 2011. “The Beetle of today is a very attractive two-door coupé or convertible, but it is limited in the amount of cars that it can sell because it’s a niche,” he says.
“If you look at MEB, the shortest wheelbase [possible] is the ID [hatchback]. If you took that and did the Beetle on it, you have plenty of room so there’s no compromise in functionality any more. So it could be a very attractive car.” While Bischoff has penned a sketch of what a four door electric Beetle might look like, he says it will be two to three years before Volkswagen makes a decision on whether or not to build it. The I.D. hatchback is scheduled to go into production in 2019.
Is an electric Beetle something VW should pursue? There are lots of people alive today who have no memory of the original car. Is VW just resting on its laurels or is it making a serious attempt to become a competitive electric car manufacturer? Let us know what you think in the comments section.